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Poetic Lack of License

The latest installment in our occasional series of blog posts from members of the HoCoPoLitSo board.

When it comes to HoCoPoLitSo, I follow the money via the checkbook, the budget, and the ticket sales. I also do the tax returns. In short, I’m the Treasurer.

I’m also an unofficial driver for HoCoPoLitSo.  Since we like to provide the personal touch, the board members and the staff share the task of picking up or dropping off our authors at the airport or the DC Metro. It surprises me that so many of our authors, including our own Lucille Clifton who lived in Columbia, don’t drive at all.

I admit that if I lived in DC, I would seriously consider abandoning my car, but I wonder sometimes if there is something innately poetic about not owning a car or holding a drivers license.  Whatever their reason for not driving, the benefit of the poetic lack of license is that it gives us another opportunity to interact with our visiting authors.

While some save their energy for the audience and just wish to ride quietly (as did Martin Espada), others prove quite talkative. On our way to the Wheaton Metro, Naomi Ayala remarked about how green Columbia was so I explained Columbia’s Open Space concept. In turn she told me about her favorite Ethiopian restaurant in Adams Morgan.

Linda Pasten carried on a charming conversation with me despite the nail-biting circumstances of running very late as I drove her along winding back roads from Montgomery County to Columbia one rainy Friday. She surreptitiously glanced at her watch and humored me gently as I chattered away, trying to distract her from my perhaps ill-founded decision not to use the beltway.

Playing chauffeur is well worth the experience and, as Treasurer, I have to add, the cost of the gas. So I guess I’ll keep my car and the job.

By Kathy Larson
Treasurer, HoCoPoLitSo Board

Check It Out: The Baltimore Sun Previews This Year’s Blackbird Poetry Festival

The Baltimore Sun‘s Explore Howard website has previewed this year’s Blackbird Poetry Festival. The article reports:

HoCoPoLitSo executive director Carla Du Pree says her group “promises a night of poetry, slam and song from contemporary poets who aren’t afraid to push the boundaries of our comfort zones. Addonizio’s red dress poem, ‘What Women Want,’ has people writing about what they want in that same saucy manner of hers. Cirelli directs one of the leading youth literary organizations in the country, and Mother Ruckus … sings for women and the men who can handle them.'”

This year’s Festival features Kim Addonizio, Michael Cirelli, Naomi Ayala and Mother Ruckus. Click here to read the article in full, including insight into the poet performers, then, we’ll see you at the Festival’s Nightbird reading, 7:30 pm in the Kittleman Room – Duncan Hall 100, for a wonderful evening of poetry adventure through slam and song.

This Thursday: The 4th Annual Blackbird Poetry Festival

Festival Poets: Kim Addonizio, Mother Ruckus, Naomi Ayala, Michael Cirelli

Featuring the Nightbird Reading, Poetry in Harmony, and a day of workshops, talks, and readings, even the “Poetry Police,” the 4th Annual Blackbird Poetry Festival returns Thursday, April 26th, to the campus of Howard Community College, this year presenting Kim Addonizio, Michael Cirelli, Naomi Ayala and Mother Ruckus.

Nightbird Reading

The Nightbird reading, the day’s main event, is a coffee house style reading with music from Mother Ruckus (spoken word poet Gayle Danley and songstress Sahffi) and readings from Michael Cirelli, the nationally renowned slam poet, and Kim Addonizio, “one of our nation’s most provocative and edgy poets.”

Last year’s Festival presented Martín Espada in the evening reading for which local blogger Tom Coale proclaimed it was, “the most engaging and thoughtful live entertainment that I’ve seen since leaving the storm-swept streets of New Orleans,” where culture bubbles up from living rather than ordaining down from academy. High, high praise. Read that blog post here.

Tickets for the Nightbird reading, which includes refreshments, are $10 for students, $15 general admission, available at the door or online at brownpapertickets. The Nightbird Reading starts at 7:30 in Duncan Hall room 150, aka The Kittleman Room. The event is sponsored in part by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Division of English/World Languages and  Office of Student Services, Howard Community College and the Sheraton Columbia.

Workshops, Talks, Readings

Throughout the day on the campus of HCC,  a number of workshops, readings and talks will occur.  Kim Addonizio will speak to a creative writing class in a private session; Michael Cirelli will meet with students and the community in an open session presenting a talk on “Hip-Hop Poetics, Education, 50 Cent & The Olive Garden.” An early afternoon reading will feature the Festival poets as well as readings by students, faculty and local writers. See the schedule below.

Festival events actually begin off campus when Naomi Ayala will present to teachers during the Howard County School System’s Professional Development Day.

The Poetry Police

Warning: April 26th is National Poem in your Pocket Day. Get caught on the community college campus by the Poetry Police without a poem and you’ll find yourself with a citation. Simple math: No Recitation Material = A Citation.

While it’s a bad thing, it is not that bad a thing. The jovial officer will likely provide you with a poem so you don’t get caught again. Actually, if you are caught and you produce a poem to share, you’ll find yourself rewarded for good civic behavior.

Need a poem, click here to find a variety to choose from, print one out to carry around.

Festival schedule:

  •  9:30 – 10:30 Naomi Ayala speaks at Howard County School System (HCPSS) Professional Development Day Session I
  • 10:40 – 11:40 Naomi Ayala speaks at HCPSS Prof. Dev. Day Session II
  • 10:00  Poetry Police start to patrol HCC at campus looking for National Poem in Your Pocket Day violations
  • 11:00 – 12:20 Kim Addonizio meets with HCC’s Creative Writing Class (closed)
  • 11:00 – 12:20 Michael Cirelli meets with students and community (open and free)
  • 2:30 – 4:30    Readings by: Naomi Ayala, Michael Cirelli, Kim Addonizio and regional poets, HCC students and faculty (open and free)
  • 7:00 Doors open for “Poetry in Harmony,” a coffee house style reading
  • 7:30 – 9:30 Readings by Michael Cirelli and Kim Addonizio, and a performance by musical group Mother Ruckus, which includes performance poet Gayle Danley and songstress Sahffi. ($15, $10 for seniors and for students with an id)

Clear the Calendar: Blackbird Poetry Festival, April 26th – Addonizio, Cirelli, Ayala, Mother Ruckus

Mark your calendars, it’s time for the Blackbird Poetry Festival: April 26, 2012!

Howard Community College and HoCoPoLitSo are proud to present “Poetry In Harmony,” the 4th annual Blackbird Poetry Festival. This year’s festival, mainly on location at the College will feature Michael Cirelli, Kim Addonizio, Naomi Ayala and Mother Ruckus. There will be readings (including by faculty and students), workshops, performances and the ‘Poetry Police” who cite students caught without poetry on hand for National Poem in Your Pocket Day.

The day’s events are mostly free and open to the public, others for students only. The evening will feature a “Poetry in Harmony” Coffee House reading with Michael Cirelli, Kim Addonizio and a performance by musical group Mother Ruckus; tickets for this performance will be $15 general admission, $10 for seniors and students with id (now available for purchase online, click here).

Festival schedule:

  • 9:30 – 10:30 Naomi Ayala speaks at Howard County School System (HCPSS) Professional Development Day Session I
  • 10:40 – 11:40 Naomi Ayala speaks at HCPSS Prof. Dev. Day Session II
  • 10:00  Poetry Police start to patrol HCC at campus looking for National Poem in Your Pocket Day violations
  • 11:00 – 12:20 Kim Addonizio meets with HCC’s Creative Writing Class (closed)
  • 11:00 – 12:20 Michael Cirelli meets with students and community (open and free)
  • 2:30 – 4:30    Readings by: Naomi Ayala, Michael Cirelli, Kim Addonizio and regional poets, HCC students and faculty (open and free)
  • 7:00 Doors open for “Poetry in Harmony,” a coffeehouse-styled reading
  • 7:30 – 9:30 Readings by Michael Cirelli and Kim Addonizio, and a performance by musical group Mother Ruckus, which includes performance poet Gayle Danley and songstress Sahffi. ($15, $10 for seniors and for students with an id)

Performer bios:

Clockwise form top left: Kim Addonizio, Mother Ruckus, Naomi Ayala, Michael Cirelli.

Michael Cirelli has been a National Poetry Slam individual finalist, winning the finals in both San Francisco and Berkeley. Cirelli has performed all over the country while teaching writing workshops to teenagers up and down the West coast. While in L.A., he was the director of PEN Center West’s, Poet In the Classroom program. He is currently the Director of Urban Word NYC. He is also the director of the Annual Spoken Word & Hip-Hop Teacher & Community Leader Training Institute at the University of Wisconsin that won the 2007 North American Association of Summer Sessions “Creative and Innovative Program Award.” His collection of poetry, Lobster with Ol’ Dirty Bastard was a New York Times Book Review independent press best seller. Vacations on the Black Star Line is his second work.  blog.grdodge.org/2010/05/21/poetry-fridays-2010-festival-poet-michael-cirelli/

Kim Addonizio has been called “one of our nation’s most provocative and edgy poets.” Her latest books are Lucifer at the Starlite, recently a finalist for the Poets Prize and the Northern CA Book Award; and Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within.  Kalima Press recently published her Selected Poems in Arabic. Addonizio’s many honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, two NEA Fellowships, and Pushcart Prizes for both poetry and the essay. Her collection Tell Me was a National Book Award Finalist. Other books include two novels, Little Beauties and My Dreams Out in the Street. Addonizio offers private workshops in Oakland, CA, and online, and often incorporates her love of blues harmonica into her readings.www.kimaddonizio.com

Naomi Ayala makes her residence in Washington, DC where, until recently, she served as the coordinator for curriculum and instruction at the National Council of La Raza’s Center for Community Educational Excellence, and the Program Director for Celebra la Ciencia: The Hispanic Community Science Festivals Project of the Self Reliance Foundation and the Hispanic Radio Network.   As a freelance writer and consultant, Ms. Ayala currently helps develop, edit and promote curricula and other educational materials – in both her native Spanish as well as English – for innovative education programs and national organizations.  She runs professional development workshops for teachers, conducts specialized residencies in public and private schools (K-12), while presenting her poetry to diverse audiences around the U.S.  She is a member of the Board of Directors of Teaching for Change.  Ms. Ayala is the author of two books of poetry, Wild Animals on the Moon, selected by the New York City Public Library as one of 1999’s Books for the Teen Age, and This Side of Early. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies around the U.S. and beyond.

Mother Ruckus  Sahffi and Gayle Danley: featuring a combination of slam and song. Mother Ruckus has performed at the International Festival in Baltimore and the Teavolve Café. To get a sense of their sound, check out: www.sahffi.com. Sahffi is part of a group called t3n (pronounced ten) www.t3n.us/p/music.html

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